Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia in Wikipedia

Hypatia (play /haɪˈpeɪʃə/; Greek: Ὑπατία, Hypatía); born between AD 350 and 370; died March 415) was a Greek[2][3] scholar from Alexandria, Egypt, considered the first notable woman in mathematics[4][5][6], who also taught philosophy and astronomy.[7] She lived in Roman Egypt, and was killed by a Christian mob who accused her of causing religious turmoil.[8] Some suggest that her murder marked the end of what is traditionally known as Classical antiquity,[9][10] although others such as and Maria Dzielska and Christian Wildberg observe that Hellenistic philosophy continued to flourish in the fifth and sixth century, Wildberg suggests until the age of Justinian [11][12]. A Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematical tradition of the Academy of Athens represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus;[13] she followed the school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, discouraging empirical enquiry and encouraging logical and mathematical studies.[14] The name Hypatia derives from the adjective ὑπάτη, the feminine form of ὕπατος (upatos), meaning "highest, uppermost, supremest".[15][16] Life Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria.[17] While some suggest that she traveled to both Athens and Italy to study,[18], others think there is no evidence that she ever left the city>[19]. She became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately 400.[20] According to the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia the Suda, she worked as a teacher of philosophy, teaching the works of Plato and Aristotle.[21] It is believed that there were both Christians[22] and foreigners[14] among her students. Although Hypatia might have been a pagan (no document refers to her religion), she was respected by a number of Christians, and later held up by Christian authors as a symbol of virtue.[14] The Suda controversially[23] declared her "the wife of Isidore the Philosopher"[21] but agreed she had remained a virgin.[24] Hypatia rebuffed a suitor by showing him her menstrual rags, claiming they demonstrated that there was "nothing beautiful" about carnal desires.[21] Hypatia maintained correspondence with her former pupil Synesius of Cyrene, who in AD 410 became bishop of Ptolemais.[25] Together with the references by Damascius, these are the only surviving writings with descriptions or information from her pupils.[26] The contemporary Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus described her in his Ecclesiastical History: " There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.[14] " -Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History Works Many of the works commonly attributed to Hypatia are believed to have been collaborative works with her father, Theon Alexandricus; this kind of authorial uncertainty being typical for the situation of feminine philosophy in Antiquity.[27] A partial list of specific accomplishments: * A commentary on the 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus.[21] * A commentary on the Conics of Apollonius.[21] * Edited the existing version of Ptolemy's Almagest.[28] * Edited her father's commentary on Euclid's Elements[29] * She wrote a text "The Astronomical Canon."[21] (Possibly a new edition of Ptolemy's Handy Tables.)[30] Her contributions to science are reputed to include the charting of celestial bodies[7] and the invention of the hydrometer,[31] used to determine the relative density and gravity of liquids. Her pupil Synesius, bishop of Cyrene, wrote a letter defending her as the inventor of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes predate Hypatia's model by at least a century - and her father had gained fame for his treatise on the subject.[32] Death Believed to have been the reason for the strained relationship between the Imperial Prefect Orestes and the Patriarch Cyril, Hypatia attracted the ire of a Christian population eager to see the two reconciled. One day in March AD 415,[33] during the season of Lent, her chariot was waylaid on her route home by a Christian mob, possibly Nitrian monks[33] led by a man identified only as Peter, who is thought to be Peter the Reader, Cyril's assistant. The Christian monks stripped her naked and dragged her through the streets to the newly Christianised Caesareum church, where she was brutally killed. Some reports suggest she was flayed with ostraca (pot shards) and set ablaze while still alive, though other accounts suggest those actions happened after her death: Socrates Scholasticus (5th-century) John of Nikiû (7th-century) Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.[34] And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through Satanic wiles...A multitude of believers in God arose under the guidance of Peter the magistrate...and they proceeded to seek for the pagan woman who had beguiled the people of the city and the prefect through her enchantments. And when they learnt the place where she was, they proceeded to her and found her...they dragged her along till they brought her to the great church, named Caesareum. Now this was in the days of the fast. And they tore off her clothing and dragged her...through the streets of the city till she died. And they carried her to a place named Cinaron, and they burned her body with fire.[35] Legacy Late Antiquity to the Age of Reason Shortly after her death, a forged letter attacking Christianity was published under her name.[36] According to Bryan J. Whitfield (The Roberts Department of Christianity at Mercer University), the pagan historian Damascius was "anxious to exploit the scandal of Hypatia's death",[37] and laid the blame squarely on the Christians and Bishop Cyril. His account was incorporated in the Suda and so became widely known. However, Damascius is the only ancient source to say that Cyril was responsible.[38] Maria Dzielska suggests the possibility that Cyril's own guard might have been implicated in the murder. The fact that most historians of the fourth century and later were Christians, is, according to Dzielska, the main reason for the scarcity of the sources on Hypatia, and Dzielska suggests that they most likely were ashamed to write about her fate.[39] In the 14th century, historian Nicephorus Gregoras described Eudokia Makrembolitissa as a "second Hypatia".[40] In the early 18th century, the deist scholar John Toland used her death as the basis for an anti-Catholic tract entitled Hypatia: Or the history of a most beautiful, most vertuous, most learned, and every way accomplish’d lady; who was torn to pieces by the clergy of Alexandria, to gratify the pride, emulation, and cruelty of their archbishop, commonly but undeservedly stil’d St. Cyril.[41] This led to a counter-claim being published by Thomas Lewis in 1721 entitled The History Of Hypatia, A most Impudent School-Mistress of Alexandria.[42] Eventually, her story began to be infused with Christian details, as it was first substituted for the missing history of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.[43][44] 19th century In the nineteenth century, interest in the "literary legend of Hypatia" began to rise[45] Diodata Saluzzo Roero's 1827 Ipazia ovvero delle Filosofie suggested that Cyril had actually converted Hypatia to Christianity, and that she had been killed by a "treacherous" priest. In 1843, German authors Soldan and Heppe argued in their highly influential History of the Witchcraft Trials that Hypatia may have been, in effect, the first famous "witch" punished under Christian authority (see Witch-hunt).[46] In his 1847 Hypatie and 1857 Hypatie et Cyrille, French poet Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle portrayed Hypatia as the epitome of "vulnerable truth and beauty".[47] Charles Kingsley's 1853 novel Hypatia - or New Foes with an Old Face, which portrayed the scholar as a "helpless, pretentious, and erotic heroine",[48] recounted her conversion by a Jewish-Christian named Raphael Aben-Ezra after supposedly becoming disillusioned with Orestes. In 1867, the early photographer Julia Margaret Cameron created a portrait of the scholar as a young woman.[49] 20th century References to Hypatia appear in other fiction. Some authors mention her in passing, such as Marcel Proust, who dropped her name in the last sentence of "Madame Swann at Home," the first section of Within a Budding Grove. Some characters are named after her, such as Hypatia Cade, a precocious child and main character in the science fiction novel The Ship Who Searched by Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey. Rinne Groff's 2000 play The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem features a character named Hypatia who lives silently, in fear that she will suffer the fate of her namesake. Hypatia is the name of a 'shipmind' (ship computer) in The Boy Who Would Live Forever, a novel in Frederick Pohl's Heechee series. Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino sees the protagonist meet a secluded society of satyr-like creatures who all take their name and philosophy from Hypatia. A fictional version of the historic character appears in several works and indeed series, such as the Heirs of Alexandria series written by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer, which includes fictitious references to Hypatia's conversion to Christianity and subsequent correspondence with John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo; the Corto Maltese adventure Fable of Venice, by characteristic superposition of anachronistic elements, sees Hypatia preside over an intellectual salon in pre-Fascist Italy; and as a recurring character in Mark London Williams' juvenile fiction Danger Boy. She also appears, briefly, as one of the kidnapped scientists and philosophers in the Doctor Who episode Time and the Rani. American astronomer Carl Sagan, in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, gave a detailed speculative description of Hypatia's death, linking it with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. A more scholarly historical study of her, Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska (translated into English by F. Lyra, published by Harvard University Press), was named by Choice Magazine as an "Outstanding Academic Book of 1995, Philosophy Category". She has been claimed by second wave feminism, most prominently as Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, published since 1986 by Indiana University Press. Judy Chicago's large-scale The Dinner Party awards her a place-setting, and other artistic works draw on or are based on Hypatia. The last two centuries have seen Hypatia's name honored in the sciences, especially astronomy. 238 Hypatia, a main belt asteroid discovered in 1884, was named for her. The lunar crater Hypatia was named after the philosopher, in addition to craters named for her father Theon and for Cyril. The 180 km Rimae Hypatia is located north of the crater, one degree south of the equator, along the Mare Tranquillitatis.[50] By the end of the twentieth century Hypatia's name was applied to projects ranging in scope from an Adobe typeface (Hypatia Sans Pro),[51] to a cooperative community house in Madison, Wisconsin. A genus of moth also bears her name. 21st century Her life continues to be fictionalised by authors in many countries and languages. Two recent examples are Ipazia, scienziata alessandrina by Adriano Petta (translated from the Italian in 2004 as Hypatia: Scientist of Alexandria), and Hypatia y la eternidad by Ramon Galí, a fanciful alternate history, in Spanish (2009).[52] The 2008 novel Azazīl, by Egyptian Muslim author Dr. Yūsuf Zaydan, tells the story of the religious conflict of that time through the eyes of a monk, including a substantial section on Hypatia.[53] Zaydan's book has been criticized by Christians in Egypt.[54] Her life is portrayed in the Malayalam novel Francis Itty Cora (2009) authored by T. D Ramakrishnan. Two examples in English are Remembering Hypatia: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Brian Trent,[55] and Flow Down Like Silver, Hypatia of Alexandria by Ki Longfellow, which was published in September 2009 as the second in a trilogy of the divine feminine, the first being The Secret Magdalene.[56] More factually, Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr (2007) is a brief (113 page) biography by Michael Deakin, with a focus on her mathematical research. In the 2009 movie Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, Hypatia is depicted by actress Rachel Weisz.

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Hypatia in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

(Ὑπατία). A mathematician of Alexandria, daughter of Theon , and still more celebrated than her father. She was born about the end of the fourth century. In her studies she applied herself in particular to the philosophy of Plato. Following the example of her master, she resolved to add to her information by travelling; and, having reached Athens, attended there the lectures of the ablest instructors. On her return to her native city, she was invited by the magistrates to give lectures in philosophy, and Alexandria beheld a woman succeed to that long line of illustrious teachers which had rendered its school one of the most celebrated in the world. She was an Eclectic; but the exact sciences formed the basis of all her instruction, and she applied their demonstrations to the principles of the speculative sciences. She numbered among her disciples many celebrated men, among others Synesius, afterwards bishop of Ptolemaïs, who preserved during his whole life the most friendly feelings towards her, although she constantly refused to become a convert to Christianity. Hypatia united to a masculine intellect many of the attractions and all the virtues of her sex. Her dress was remarkable for its simplicity; her conduct was always above suspicion; and she knew well how to compel the respect of those of her auditors who felt the influence of her charms. All idea of marriage was constantly rejected by her as threatening to interfere with her devotion to her favourite studies. Orestes, governor of Alexandria, admired the talents of Hypatia, and frequently had recourse to her for advice. He was desirous of repressing the too ardent zeal of St. Cyril, who saw in Hypatia one of the principal supports of paganism. The partisans of the bishop, on their side, beheld in the measures of the governor the result of the counsels of Hypatia; the most fanatical of their number, in March, A.D. 415, seized upon Hypatia as she was proceeding to her school, forced her to descend from her chariot, and dragged her into a neighbouring church, where, stripped of her vestments, she was put to death by her brutal foes. Her body was hacked to pieces with oyster-shells, and the bloody remains were dragged through the streets and finally burned. The works of Hypatia were lost in the burning of the Alexandrian Library. In the number of these were a commentary on Diophantus, an Astronomical Canon, and a commentary on the Conics of Apollonius of Perga. The very names of her other productions are lost. The Greek Anthology contains an epigram in praise of Hypatia, attributed to Paulus Silentiarius. Canon Kingsley's historical romance (London, 1853) has done much to make her name familiar to English readers. See the exhaustive monograph on Hypatia by Hoche in the Philologus, xv. 435 foll. (1860).

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